Insights from industry

Design and Development of Nanotechnology Enclosures for Containment Testing

Adam Keithley, Marketing Manager at Labconco Corporation, talks to AZoNano about the design and development of nanotechnology enclosures for containment testing.

What are Labconco’s key products?

Labconco’s key products include Fume Hoods, Biosafety Cabinets, Glassware Washers, Freeze Dry, Specialty Evaporation, Glove Boxes and other Safety Enclosures.

Which markets use your products?

Research, Academic, Pharmaceuticals, Chemistry, Bio, Water/Waste-Water, Oil & Gas, Food & Bev, Agricultural Chemistry, Clinical.

You presented four new products at the Pittcon conferences in Philadelphia. Can you discuss what these products are?

PrimeMate™ Oil Change System - This system reduces the complications that can occur with changing the oil in your rotary vane or hybrid pump. Depending on the pump, the PrimeMate is designed to perform up to 4 oil changes before the clean oil container must be replaced or refilled. Two separate lines pump out the dirty oil and then fill the pump with clean oil to ensure clean oil is not contaminated with the dirty oil.

Mini-Stoppering Chamber - The Mini Stoppering Chamber attaches to a port on a Labconco Drying Chamber or Manifold (sold seperately) to stopper small vials (up to 30ml each). This product is an accessory for freeze dryers to allow for lyophilizing samples in vials with split stoppers. Vials can also be stoppered while still under vacuum. Spacers, tubing and the adapter for the connection to the port are also included. The vials and stoppers are sold seperately.

Purifier® Logic®+ Biosafety Cabinet - Labconco has incorporated additional features to the latest generation of Purifier Logic+ Biosafety Cabinets that resets the bar for not only safety but also comfort. Unlike other cabinets, the Purifier Logic+ was designed for the human body and habits that go beyond ergonomics. We call it Inclination™ Technology—design that caters to human behavior. These new features mean less fatigue, fewer distractions and a more comfortable working environment for the end user. Your work demands precision, attention to details and constant vigilance to safe practices. We believe the more comfortable you are, the safer you will be.

Purifier® Logic®+ Biosafety Cabinet.

Purifier® Logic®+ Biosafety Cabinet.

Protector® Fume Hoods – One of the main foundations of the end-users product development efforts is to protect the laboratory environment. When Labconco engineers designed the latest generation of Protector XStream®, Premier® and XL Laboratory Hoods, in addition to safety, they also considered high performance because they save energy. Every component was scrutinized and repeatedly tested to help achieve maximum containment at lowest face velocities. The results of their efforts are three fume hood lines that achieve the SEFA 1-2010 definition of a High Performance Fume Hood.

Protector XStream Laboratory Hood.

Protector XStream Laboratory Hood.

Labconco also specializes in laboratory enclosures. What were your main findings from a recent paper on Comparing and Contrasting Containment Results of Two Methodologies for Nanoparticulate Safety Enclosures?

The results from the Labconco XPert® Nano enclosure containment testing support the ideal of functionality in design that labconco’s engineers set out to accomplish. The basis of design of the unit was the XPert balance system. This highly engineered enclosure combines the use of performance enhancing features to aid in the superior containment it provides.

The use of the patented Clean-SweepTM air foil directs air to sweep the work surface - along with the side-entry air foils - directs air that sweep the interior side surface, the upper dilution air supply directs clean air to the back of the sash, the patented upper containment sash foil directs clean air away from the user’s breathing zone, and the patented horizontal slotted back baffle with zones of perforations promotes horizontal laminar flow.

This enclosure with these features has been subjected to multiple testing protocols for containment including the rigorous testing by Nanosafe, Inc. These tests solidified the capabilities of the XPert line of enclosures to contain and provide user protection with toxic, potent or hazardous powder handling. Even data collected at the sash opening during the nanosafe testing procedures of the XPert Nano never exceeded the level of particulate of the background.

Taking this design a step farther so it can be applied to the new emerging field of nanotechnology, these same engineers raised the bar and added more features that would be of specific importance for this field of study.

  • Filtration of the exiting air is vital in order to provide safety to the laboratory environment. Ulpa filtration, which is used in the XPert Nano, is 99.999% efficient with a penetrating particle size (mpps) of 0.12 mm. This testing supports that ULPA filtration, using the sample taken at the exhaust of the unit, i.e. ULPA filtered air, is capable of producing particle free air for recirculation. Taking into account the level of sensitivity of the instrumentation, this denotes that there is no leakage of particulate past or through the upla filter.  

  • Materials of construction were specifically chosen for intrinsic properties. Although these materials may not directly affect the airflow, other forces such as static charge can create havoc in an already delicate procedure. The stainless steel interior with an integrated stainless steel has an intrinsic charge dissipating capability. Surfaces that collect charge inside the enclosure can cause a cross-contamination issue, balance precision issues and possible loss of containment by attaching to surfaces of utensils that will eventually be removed from the enclosure.

  • The ionizer that is installed in the work surface, such as the materials of construction, does not directly affect the airflow; however, it lends itself to decreasing static build-up on insulative surfaces that have been placed inside the enclosure. It is common for utensils and instrumentation with moving and/or plastic parts to be placed inside the enclosure, such as balances, lcs, weigh boats, spatulas, etc. All these surfaces not only harbor charge, but they can cause static interactions that could affect the precision of that instrumentation. The addition of this feature was not to increase containment, but to make the manipulation process carried out inside the enclosure easy, clean and precise while still providing user protection.

What do these finding mean for the end-user?

The combination of these two different testing techniques yields a consistent message of safety and containment when working with nanoparticulates. When faced with processes that require manipulation of nanoparticulate, Labconco’s XPert Nano enclosure provides proven containment and personnel protection.

At Pittcon you also presented a poster on Energy Savings from Glassware Washer Use. Can you discuss this in more detail and explain how Labconco uses this to meet laboratory demands for superior cleaning?

Glassware washers benefit laboratories in three main ways: using a laboratory glassware washer requires less water to produce sanitized glassware than hand washing alone. Secondly, reusing labware limits the amount of waste in the environment. Finally, the increased energy efficiency and water conservation offered by laboratory glassware washers allows them to fit well into laboratories with a “green” focus. They can also contribute to LEED credits.

How does the Labconco RevElution™ Bio-Concentrator work?

It uses a patented technology to rapidly and efficiently concentrate liquid microbial samples for further analysis. Samples as large as two litres may be concentrated at a rate of up to 100 ml/minute using a unique method that draws the liquid through a filter and then elutes the trapped particles with a wet foam solution.

Labconco Revelution™ Bio-Concentrator.

Labconco Revelution™ Bio-Concentrator.

What are the main benefits of this product?

As many as 90% or more of microbes are recovered, ready and viable for various rapid or classical analytical methods such as immunoassay, PCR or cell culture. The RevElution™  is an ideal sample preparation instrument for bacteria, parasites, molds, fungi and whole cells found in food, beverage and environmental samples and other life science applications.

How has Labconco managed to evolve its products to meet demands and help compete with the market?

We stay on top of new technologies and the ever-increasing standards and demands for higher performing products. We have focus groups and we listen to the market, the customers, the users and the regulators, and factor the information gathered into the designs of our products.

In terms of hazards and injuries in a laboratory/testing environment, what factors do you consider when designing and developing your products?

We look at emerging trends, such as nanotechnology, and work to stay in touch with the market and thought leaders as risks are evaluated and standards are developed to help keep operators and/or their products protected.    

Where can we find further information?  

Information on our services can be found at our Labconco site.

About Adam Keithley

Adam Keithley

Being part of Labconco’s team as we develop and innovate is something that Adam truly enjoys, but in his opinion, the real ground-breaking is done by the researchers who use our equipment. “It has been amazing to watch the growth in technology, automation, improved accuracy and precision just in the time I've been working in the industry,” he says. “Laboratory medicine and the researchers and techs who occupy the benches are true heroes when it comes to clinical diagnostics and ground-breaking research.”

Adam sings high praises of the workers at the benches, but if the field of science hadn’t captured him, he may be doling out praises elsewhere; he says he would likely be a film critic, if he weren’t a Marketing Manager at Labconco. Aside from enjoying thrilling movies, Adam also loves the thrill of paintball sports. Plotting ballistic trajectories and factoring the likelihood of tactical success keeps his scientific gears spinning.

The world of science has always been a natural home to Adam. He nurtured his love for science throughout high school and college; “Science and math just made sense to me,” he reports, “as opposed to diagramming sentences in tenth grade English.” As a result, Adam’s college evenings were spent in the laboratory, and he “became fascinated with microbiology and that microscopic living world.” He soon learned about the opportunities available to well-trained medical technologists.

Adam continued to learn and to expand his qualifications, switching from medical school to the School of Health Related Professions at MU. He passed the ASCP board exam right out of college and has real field experience as a microbiologist under his belt.

Certificates include: Board Certified Medical Technologist - American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP); education: University of Missouri - Columbia, Bachelor of Health Sciences - Medical Technology.

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